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Schools count losses as book thieves target libraries

By Olivia Odhiambo | Published Thu, June 15th 2017 at 00:00, Updated June 14th 2017 at 20:33 GMT +3

Six primary schools are counting their losses following a series of break-ins and thefts in the past two weeks.

Ministry of Education officials and police officers are investigating the thefts, which they believe are being executed by criminals in collaboration with book sellers.

The schools, all in Ugunja sub-county, have had their staff rooms broken into and text books and other equipment stolen at night.

The latest victim was Mayingo Primary School on Monday night.

All the six schools that have reported their books stolen - Ugulowe, Lolwe, Mudhiero, Uluhowe, Murumba Yiro and Mayingo - are in Sikalame zone in Sidindi ward.

However, only two of the schools have reported the thefts to the police.

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"We have reports from two head teachers that their schools were broken into and several text books and other equipment like computers stolen. They reported last week," said area police boss Samuel Koskei.

Staff interrogated

Police have already interrogated watchmen and a number of staff from the affected schools.

"Investigations are currently ongoing, we will release a report and the culprits will be arrested and arraigned in court," said Mr Koskei.

Police suspect the thefts could be a collaboration between officers in the sub-county education office and a book selling cartel operating between Kenya and South Sudan.

But County Director of Education Masibo Kituyi downplayed the suspicion, saying his department was also conducting its own investigations to establish how much material and equipment had been stolen in the past two months.

"I cannot say it's a cartel because we are still investigating. I am currently waiting for a report from the quality assurance officers before I give concrete information on this matter," he said.

Mr Kituyi also noted that the report would also establish if there had been such cases before.

"We have engaged security officers to help with investigations. We hope to reach a solution to restore calm in our learning institutions. But it will be important to get the investigation report and go through it before I release any information," he said.

The education office and the police however clashed on the number of reported cases.

Police dismissed the director's claims that all the cases had been reported, saying only two headteachers had reported the matter.

Affected schools

According to a head teacher from one of the affected schools who sought anonymity for fear of victimisation, the institution lost text books worth more than Sh65,000 plus personal valuables belonging to the teachers.

He said the thefts were derailing teaching and learning activities in the area.

"My school was affected two months ago. The incident has really affected learning," he said.


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